Gone are the days when the Internet was only for the geek labs and university libraries. With the emergence of accessible connectivity and affordable technology, ecommerce and online business are not futuristic concepts. Websites like Amazon and Ebay are the prime examples of successful online business ventures.
If you are planning to start your online business or an ecommerce website, you need to be careful about where you host your website. There are two things that are very important to run an ecommerce website: a well-designed, content-rich website and a host that supports seamless hosting. Remember that your ecommerce host is the backbone of your business. Imagine what would happen if there are hundreds of customers eager to pay you and your website is down or certain sections are inaccessible. Or for that matter, some mischievous hackers steals your important customer and sales database and wrecks havoc with your business. Choosing an ecommerce or an online business web host is not as simple as choosing a web host for a normal website.
As it happens with any brick and mortar business, you need to take many things into account before choosing your ecommerce web host. How many other online business websites are they already hosting? What has been their track record till now? What do the other ecommerce entrepreneurs think of them? What all tools do they provide when you purchase their ecommerce web hosting package? Along with these, let us discuss in points what makes a host good for your ecommerce or online business website.
THE HOSTING PLATFORM FOR YOUR ECOMMERCE WEBSTIE
If you yourself are not developing/coding your website then your developer should be able to advise you what business hosting platform you require for your website. You may need Windows environment or Unix/Linux combination according to your website’s development environment and tools implementation. For example, if your developer is an experienced ASP (active server pages) programmer, he/she would prefer a Windows web hosting environment, but if he/she prefers PHP, then you’ll have to go for Linux/Unix business web hosting. Although different people have different issues with both the web hosting types, it all depends on personal preferences.
THE UPTIME OF YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS WEBSITE
This is the bane of countless webmasters. Millions in revenues are lost because when customers arrive at the websites, the ecommerce websites are down or some of the critical pages are not available. The customers arrive with the intention of making a purchase but there is no facility available…this is the worst nightmare for an ecommerce entrepreneur or a business person.
Make sure your ecommerce web host manages parallel servers so that if one server goes down, the others can take over. Your business web host should give you the guaranteed security of your critical data.
THE BANDWIDTH OF YOUR ECOMMERCE WEB HOST
An ecommerce website requires lots of traffic in order to generate business because, as it happens with every business in this world, not every visitor is a buyer or a customer. 10 or 20 people do business if 1000s of visitors come to your website. You have to make provision for lots of traffic, and that too, targeted traffic.
THE STORAGE SPACE OF YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS WEB HOSTING PACKAGE
Ecommerce websites take up more space compared to normal, non-commercial or semi-commercial websites. First of all, you need an online database to maintain comprehensive inventory details. Then, you may have tens of flash files or hundreds of image files if your buyers would like to view the images or if they want to go through some sort of an online catalog. Keep your future server space requirements in mind while negotiating for an ecommerce hosting package.
THE NUMBER OF EMAIL ACCOUNTS YOUR ECOMMERCE WEB HOST OFFERS
Some business web hosts offer a limited number of POP3 email accounts that you can manage through software like Outlook and Firefox and some offer an unlimited number. Some don’t provide a POP3 email account at all and you need to manage all your emails through a web-based interface. Make sure what your email requirements are going to be and go for an ecommerce web hosting package accordingly.
OTHER TOOLS WITH YOUR ECOMMERCE WEB HOSTING PACKAGE
* Some other tools you may want to check out are: Autoresponders: most ecommerce hosts these days provide free autoresponders. * Multiple FTP accounts: You may need multiple FTP accounts if you have a big team of programmers. * FrontPage extensions: FrontPage is shipped with lots tools for an easy and fast assemblage of a basic ecommerce website but these tools need some extensions installed on the server. If you are getting your business website developed using FrontPage, you’ll need the extensions available on the server of the web host. * Secure Socket Layer (SSL): SSL can be used to collect sensitive data from your site visitors, to ensure that your emails are not intercepted online, and to provide a sense of security for your customers. * Shopping cart software: Some business web hosting packages are shift with a shopping cart.